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Rape and fear in Paro

Paro, Friday, October 4.

Here the fear is palpable.

Everyone knows, but no one wants to speak. So, not a single body, quite by circumstances, is in the know. 

This is Paro today, weeks after the brutal rape of an eight-year-old girl on September 19.

Paro perhaps has never seen such a heavy presence of police. For sure it wasn’t such a community, shaken to the core.

There is a suspect locked inside, but everyone here is a suspect. At the time of the interview for this story, there were more than 15 suspects on the list of the police.

The fear has gripped the community in the way that getting to the truth will be difficult. 

Of course.

But the people here want the truth and the perpetrator of the crime dealt with accordingly.

But what does dealing accordingly in this context really mean?

Kesang is a power-packed petite. And pretty. Far and away up in Tsento, she owns a ‘general’ shop which is also effectively a restaurant.

 

The night

Kesang’s nine-year-old daughter wakes up suddenly one night and begins recounting the darkness that the murdered girl went through that night.

The tears in the little one’s eyes and the urgency had her worried. Kesang’s husband was there, too. 

The next day would be thruebab, Tuesday, September 24.

“Let me go home, please,” she begged, repeatedly. 

The little girl [the dead] even had plans to visit Haa, where later it was found her gandfather still is a revered lam.

The night again, the next. 

It is someplace else, a little way down from Kesang’s home, in a labour camp. There is a commotion of a sort. 

An Indian labourer, in mysterious delirium, begins to speak flawless Dzongkha, accented the Parop way.

His friends do not understand.

“Please, let me go”

By the time the police arrived, the labourer  possessed  can no longer recall the trance. 

 

Paro this day

Children go to school and come back. But they are always in the minds of their parents. They come to pick them up and drop off.

Teachers feel this is how things should be.

“We are wise only after some incidents,” a Drukgyel Central School Teacher says. “But parents are now more careful.”

 

The way the Parops see

The suspect is a hardened criminal, they say. 

By some account, he has just been out on a bail. And he is much afeared by everyone in the community.

“He is better in than out,” says Kesang. 

By the way, Kesang is not her real name. 

“Let the investigation go on. But faster, the better,” she said.

Down the line, a few metres away, there is the labour camp. But, here, no one wants to talk.

“But then, let’s wait for the law. The guilty must be brought to the book,” said a worried parent.

The investigation into this case is a priority, we hear. The priority investigation, the people hope, will help nail the culprit.

This is Paro today.

 Gripped in fear.

Jigme Wangchuk

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